State Rep. Brooks Landgraf, R-Odessa, said he breathed a sigh of relief as he watched “Monica’s Law” come to fruition.
The law, which could help prevent domestic violence and protect victims, passed with a strong majority in the Texas House of Representatives 137 to 6 on Monday during the 86th Texas legislative session.
Landgraf said unless the governor vetoes the bill, the law would go into effect on Sept. 1.
“I’m thrilled,” Landgraf said. “This law is going to do a lot of good for a lot of people and it’s going to save lives. It’s going to prevent domestic violence.
“It wasn’t easy to get where we are today, but I’m glad to see all of the hard work has paid off.”
As the tallies to pass the bill rolled in, Landgraf said he reminisced on the talks he had with former Odessa Police Department officer Jon Nielsen, the father of 32-year-old Monica Deming, about his daughter being murdered in an act of domestic violence in 2015.
Deming was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, despite him having two separate protective orders for domestic violence issued against him, which he was able to hide from OPD due to them being from other jurisdictions, and no database available to show history of protective orders due to domestic violence.
“Monica’s Law” would create an online database available to the public and law enforcement listing protective orders issued by Texas courts as a result of domestic violence.
“I kept thinking of Jon Nielsen and the heartbreak that he has endured as the father of a murdered domestic violence victim,” Landgraf said. “My heart immediately went out to Mr. Nielsen, but then also this measure is going to prevent other fathers from having to experience the grief he did.”
Landgraf said “Monica’s Law” gained a large amount of traction during the 2017 Texas Legislative session, but it ran out of time on the senate floor.
“Monica’s Law” passed in the Texas Senate earlier during the 86th Texas legislative session, but Landgraf said it didn’t want to think too far ahead until it also passed the Texas House of Representatives.
“You can never take anything for granted in the Texas legislature,” Landgraf said. “Even though I knew we had a tremendous amount of support, I didn’t want to count my chickens before they hatched.”
Throughout the last five years, there have been a total of 4,156 assaults detailed in OPD’s Uniform Crime Report.
Landgraf admitted there’s not only a problem of assault in the district he represents, but a concern throughout the country.
“Thanks to ‘Monica’s Law’ individuals who perpetrate violence won’t be able to work in the shadows and they won’t be able to hide behind arbitrary jurisdictional lines anymore,” Landgraf said. “This shines sunlight on bad actors in our society and it doesn’t matter where it is in the state of Texas.”
The six members of the Texas House of Representatives that voted no on “Monica’s Law” were Matt Krause, Matt Schaefer, Valoree Swanson, Tony Tinderholt, Terry Wilson and Bill Zedler. Seven representatives abstained from voting.